How To Stop Sabotaging Your Own Success (And Break Through Upper Limits)

September 3, 2020

I’m Kim.
I’m an M.D.-turned-entrepreneur and I’m dedicated to helping you build your dream career + lifestyle. Welcome to my blog, where I write (and podcast) about wellness, business + success!
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Are you frustrated with a lack of progress in your coaching business? Do you crave success … but things just don’t seem to be working out in the way you imagined? In this article, I’m going to talk about how you might be sabotaging your own success, without even realizing it.

You might think the reasons for your current results are outside of your control (you’re too busy, the economy is bad, people don’t want to pay for coaching…) but in this episode I’m going to show you exactly why your lackluster success is often based on internal factors — and what to do about it!

This is so important if you want to achieve things you’ve never achieved before, or do things you’ve never done before — whether that’s in your business or your life. 

Your success is completely an inside job, and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you will be in control of it. 

By the way, if you’d rather listen than read, here’s where you can tune in to this episode:

Before we get started, let me ask you: have you watched my free online training yet? Inside The 4-Part Formula For Replacing Your 9-5 Income With A Coaching Business You Love, I teach you my exact system for building an online business that gives you freedom, flexibility, and fulfillment — plus the ability to work from the comfort and safety of your own home.


So today we’re going to talk about something that comes up for all of us, whether we realize it or not. And to be honest, most of the time we DON’T realize it. 

What I’m talking about is self-sabotage.

It’s the ways that we actually sabotage our own success — and we do it without being aware of it.

And I’m going to walk you through the FOUR STEPS that happen for everyone, every time this process occurs.

If you don’t take a really hard look at this stuff, at what’s going on in your mind, you are destined to just repeat the same patterns, stay stuck in the same place, and never achieve your goals.

And you will undoubtedly believe that there was something outside of you that caused that to happen, but trust me, it’s not that. It’s completely an inside job, and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you will be in control of it. 

When I Realized I Was Sabotaging Myself

Before we go any further with this, I just want to mention that a few years ago when I was first building my online business, I would never have bought into the idea that I was sabotaging my own success. I would have said that was ridiculous.

At that point, I had actually achieved a lot of things already, and I didn’t think that was my problem, self-sabotage. I would have totally dismissed that idea.

But the thing is, that’s absolutely what I was doing.

Until I recognized it for what it was, I would never have been able to move past it and achieve the success in business that I have. I would have stayed right where I was.

So if that’s you, right now, if you’re thinking: yeah, maybe other people sabotage themselves, but that’s not me. That’s not my issue … I want you to keep listening, and really think about what I’m saying, because there’s a good chance that’s exactly what you’re doing.

The 4-Step Process

Let me share with you a process that happens so often when someone is actually trying to be courageous, and they want to take a stand for something, and they’re reaching for a big goal or desire in their business or their life. 

They hit an upper limit. 

They hit this invisible barrier, which represents what they’ve known as possible for themselves. And that triggers a lot of fear, and then there’s a whole cascade of things that happen after that.

It’s important to understand this very natural and unbelievably common process, because when you do, you’ll be able to more gracefully navigate and through this phenomenon, and really create the change that you’re wanting to create in your business and your life. 

It’s basically a 4-step process that happens without you being aware of it. So let me walk you through those 4 steps.

The first thing that happens is that we get inspired. We have a vision, or even just a glimpse of a vision of what’s possible for ourselves. And that glimpse makes us feel inspired and uplifted and really excited for what might happen.

I’m sure you’ve had this feeling before.

You start to get excited by the possibility. Maybe it’s excitement when you glimpse the kind of growth you’d love for your business, or the impact you could perhaps have in the world when you reach the people you would love to help. 

So you have this vision, and it’s really invigorating.

Which leads you to the second step, which is action.

Now, this action could look like starting to research what you would need to do. It could be signing up for a training program. I know a lot of people are at this stage when they first learn about health and wellness coaching, and they are positively on top of the world feeling like they have discovered the exact thing they want to do with their lives. And then they jump online, find a training program, maybe do some research on the different programs, and then the next thing they know, they’ve enrolled in a program. 

So this action step is great, it’s a great feeling. Maybe it could be clearing your calendar, or making some kind of change in your life to make space for the new project you want to work on. Maybe it’s looking at your options and talking to some people about what you want to do. Maybe it’s attending a webinar, downloading a freebie, buying a book, or maybe booking a discovery call with someone you think might be able to help you with whatever next step you want to take, like a coach, perhaps.

But then, after this, we move to the third step. And again, this step happens automatically, it’s not something you decide to do.

But this third step, the third thing that happens is FEAR.

This is when the blocks and the fears start to come up.

Because it’s starting to feel real, and this vision is not congruent with your current image of yourself. You’ve started to step into this new identity, perhaps, and that feels scary, and big, and your primitive brain gets triggered because it feels unsafe, and so all these blocks and fears start to come up.

But it’s incredibly important to learn this, and understand it, and see it for what it is, in order to transform it.

And you need to know that it’s normal. It does not mean that something has gone wrong. Fear and self-doubt, in itself, is not a sign that something has gone horribly wrong. In fact, it’s predictable. It’s just our primitive brain reacting to what’s happening.

So you need to notice if your mind is flipping out. If you start saying things to yourself like: I’m not qualified for this. Somebody else is doing this, and in fact they’re doing it better than I ever could. Or your mind might be saying things like: actually I don’t have time for this. I don’t have the money for this, after all. Who am I, anyway?

And all of these thoughts are just stories that are keeping us small and limited. It’s just your fear trying to keep you safe, to stop you from taking risks, and hold you in your safe Zone. 

Because by making this change, it’s unknown. What could happen? 

And our primitive minds don’t like change. 

But it’s all in the mind, it’s just made up, it’s in the future. 

At this point, you’ve gone through 3 stages: the vision, the action, and then the fear that inevitably follows those first few steps that you took toward your vision.

And then, the 4th stage is actually a crossroads. Because you have a choice at this point. You always have a choice at this point.

How To Handle The Crossroads

And as soon as you can see this, you’ll feel more empowered to know what this means, and what this whole process is about.

So when your primitive mind is pulling up all kinds of fears and doubts and limiting beliefs, and it’s telling you to stay small and stay safe, you can do one of two things.

You can do what a lot of people do which is: they settle. They stay stuck in this contracted way of living, and they don’t make any kind of change.

They tell themselves that it’s okay. Maybe later they’ll feel more motivated, or they’ll be able to overcome whatever thing it is they feel is standing in their way, like time, or money, or knowledge, or whatever.

But what they don’t realize is that the fear is destined to come up, no matter if you start now or not. It’s just going to sit there, waiting for you later, when you start to consider this new pathway again. That fear is going to be there, ready to push you back down again. So whether you take the risk now, or you wait 6 months and do it then, it’s going to trigger the fear and the self-doubt, and you’ll have to deal with it if you want to move past it. Otherwise, you’ll just stay settled and small forever. So, honestly, you might as well face it now, conquer the fear now. Don’t wait the six months, putting it off until next year or whenever. All that’s going to happen is you’ll be one year older, and no further ahead.

These are just limiting beliefs. They’re not true. Your mind wants to keep you safe, so it kicks up a lot of convincing stories to keep you small. And they can really sound like the truth. Your mind is a very convincing creature. “I don’t have enough time right now” sounds like it’s the stone-cold truth. 

But the more courageous you are, and if you are able to really peel back the layers and realize that this is just your fear talking, you’ll see this for what it is, and you’ll find yourself unwilling to let fear hold you back.

And you’ll stretch your capacity for discomfort, you’ll push yourself out of your comfort zone and experience much greater freedom and fulfillment in your own life. 

Elizabeth Gilbert says in her fabulous book Big Magic, you acknowledge the fear that’s holding you back and telling you why something is impossible. And you thank the fear. You say “thank you, fear, for showing up and trying to keep me safe, but I’ve got this. I’m doing this anyway.”

And so of course that’s the second choice at the crossroads. That’s the transformation. You move through this stage, this crossroads, and onward to your big future.

You can do this in a couple of different ways. You can question the fear, like really logic it through, and come to realize that there’s no truth to what your mind is telling you. And then move forward from there. Or you can feel the fear and move forward anyway. Maybe there’s no logical way out, but the truth is, life is about risk, if you really want the good stuff to happen, and accepting a certain amount of risk and discomfort is something you can do, because you can do hard things.

But the magic happens in action. Really being willing to take action on what it is that you truly want.

And I want to point out, it doesn’t matter what level of success you’ve reached, this exact same process comes up over and over. As they say: new level, new devil.

Every time you want to reach for a new goal, your mind will look for ways to tell you why you can’t do that.

And you have to see that for what it is, and then make the choice to not let that stop you.

Over time, you’ll strengthen your ability to move through with more grace and you’ll feel more empowered in your life and your business. And you’ll be able to go for what you really want. 

So here’s a little homework.

How To Push Through Your Upper Limits

Pull out your journal or notebook, and first, identify what is the vision. It’s the calling, it’s the thing that’s inspiring you. And you can even write about what the first steps were that you started to take toward this vision, even if it was just researching, or reading about it, or listening to something like a podcast.

And then the second thing is to name your block. What is the fear that is holding you back? Maybe it’s the belief that you’re not qualified. You’re saying to yourself: I really want to grow my business and reach the next stage, but I’m not qualified. I don’t know enough yet. 

Or maybe your fear is that you don’t have enough money to spend on this business. You haven’t made enough money at this new venture yet, so you can’t invest anything. Your mind is telling you that the prudent thing to do is wait to make money first and then you can invest.

But what’s underneath that? Really think about it.

For many people, it’s a fear of losing money. Of wasting money. Of feeling foolish, and being embarrassed because they made this choice, they took the risk and they lost. But you have to recognize that fear for what it is: it’s your mind trying to keep you safe. Because as long as you don’t spend any money, you haven’t risked anything, and so there’s no way that terrible outcome can happen, of you feeling embarrassed or feeling foolish or angry that you spent money and it didn’t work out. 

And you’re letting that fear of what *might* happen dictate your actions. Because nothing like that has happened yet. You’re just future tripping. You can’t possibly know how things will turn out. What’s for SURE is that if you don’t invest, you’ll stay right where you are. Stuck and fearful. 

For me, this is exactly what was happening. I was trying to build my coaching business, and telling myself that I didn’t need to get any help. I was smart enough, I could figure out what needed to be done. I didn’t need to quote-unquote “waste” money on other people’s programs or business mentorship, because I could do it myself. 

And I stayed at that place for a long time. 

Because what I eventually realized was that those ideas, that story that I didn’t need any guidance or help–that was just my mind trying to keep me safe. 

Deep down, I was afraid of taking the risk. I was afraid of ridicule if I went big with this dream. I was afraid of wasting money and being frivolous with money. I couldn’t handle the idea that I might invest money and it wouldn’t pay off. 

Plus this idea of becoming a successful coach was really pushing me out of the identity that I had for myself that was nice and safe, as a physician. 

And so I stayed right where I was, kind of dabbling, playing it safe, and not much was happening. And I blamed it on other things — I told myself I didn’t have enough time to really make it successful. I was a mom, and I was busy, I had a lot of responsibilities, and that’s why I wasn’t really having the success that maybe other people were having. But that was a lie I was telling myself, almost to make myself feel better about my mediocre success, and kind of let myself off the hook.

It wasn’t until I woke up and realized that it was just me, I was the only one holding me back, and that it was time to go all in, to go pro, and to push past the fear that was sabotaging my success…and that’s when things started to change. That’s when I invested in my business, got my own coach, invested in the programs I needed to, got myself in the rooms I needed to be in…that’s when everything shifted. 

Okay, so back to your assignment. Writing in your journal about your own process. So once you’ve really taken a good look at what the fear is that’s keeping you right where you are, then I want you to write down your two choices.

One, you can believe that fear-based story. You can stay right where you are and stay stuck.

Or, two, you can choose to feel the fear and do it anyway.

This would be choosing to take action and test your assumption and not let fear be an excuse to hold you back. 

And that’s how you work through this process. Every time it happens to you, and trust me, it will happen a lot, whether you realize it or not. 

Are You Ready For The Next Step?

Now if you’re ready to break through those upper limits, and for many of us, the biggie is breaking out of a job that doesn’t fulfill us anymore, and so if that’s you, then you are definitely going to want to attend my free online training called The 4-Part Formula For Replacing Your 9-5 Income With A Coaching Business You Love.

Inside the training I’ll be teaching you the details of my framework for creating a profitable coaching business, the four essential elements to create in your coaching business in order to get all the clients you want, so that you can replace your income and step into a freedom-based career that gives you the lifestyle you truly desire. Plus I’ll tell you about the 3 big mistakes I see coaches making all the time that are keeping them stuck, and are making them feel like things aren’t working in their business, so that you can avoid those fateful mistakes and not be one of the coaches who gives up because they couldn’t get their business off the ground. 

This training will only be available for a limited time, so head over here right now to reserve your seat, completely for free.

And now I’d love to hear from you! Let me know: are you beginning to realize that you have actually been sabotaging your own success? Tell me about a fear or a block that you are no longer going to allow to have power over you.

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N.B. some links are affiliate links.

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